2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata officially unveiled wearing new Kodo design [w/video]

Article by Christian A., on September 4, 2014

As expected, Mazda officially introduced today the all-new 2016 MX-5 Miata, the fourth-generation of company’s most popular roadster. According to Mazda, the new MX-5 Miata features the Kodo – Soul of Motion design theme and comparing it with its predecessor, the new model is a big improvement. The new car arrives with stylish headlights, a big air intake, new LED lights located on the front bumper as well as a new hood with muscular lines.

The height of the bonnet is lowered, while the A-pillars and windshield header was moved to the rear. At the rear, we find LED taillights, an interesting design for the rear bumper, as well as an air diffuser and a chromed exhaust system. The interior is completely new and according to Mazda, it was designed in order to maximize the pleasure of open-top driving.

MX-5 Miata arrives with a brand new three-spoke interior, a new dash featuring simple design lines as well as with the latest-generation human-machine interface (HMI) and MZD Connect. As you may know already, Mazda MX-5 Miata is known for its easy-to-operate soft-top and the latest generation continues the tradition.

The weight of the new soft top was also reduced and it is now easy to operate it while seated. Mazda will offer the new MX-5 Miata with a choice of two SkyActiv-G direct-injection petrol engines with displacements of 1.5- and 2.0-liter. Bolted to a SkyActiv-MT six-speed manual transmission, the engines are expected to deliver 140 hp and 200 hp, respectively.

The vehicle rides on a new rear-wheel-drive architecture and comparing it with its predecessor, it is 105 mm shorter, 20 mm lower and 10 mm wider. In addition, the new MX-5 Miata is 100 kg lighter. The engine is now located closer to the vehicle’s centre, while the bonnet, boot lid, front fender as well as front and rear bumper reinforcements are made of aluminum.

The all-new Mazda MX-5 boasts of ideal proportions that are even better than previous models. It is the shortest MX-5 so far, the newest iteration is sleeker than its predecessors. It also has a lower center of gravity, with occupants seated literally at the midpoint and closer to the ground than in previous models. Moreover, the new MX-5 is designed to appeal to the adrenaline of its driver as well as steal the hearts of onlookers.

Featuring a short overhang, the new MX-5 is defined on the front by a low-slung nose and, while character lines emerge from the upper edge of the grille and run to the wildcat-like headlamps featuring concealed ultra-compact four-lamp LED units. The front end is also defined by LED daytime running lamps placed at the lower corners of the front bumper.

The exterior of the new MX-5 takes inspiration from the Japanese tradition of calligraphy, allowing designers to achieve an efficient flow down its sides. Designers were able to better balance the proportions whether the soft top is up or down by moving the cabin slightly rearward. The soft top is matched by black A-pillars, windscreen header as well as seatback bars and door mirror trim. The soft top is easily stowed into a compact compartment and when deployed, it boosts the overall appearance and aerodynamics of the MX-5.

Meanwhile, the sides of the new Mazda MX-5 seem to be "tucked in" at the corners and narrow just above the tires. The sides feature a low and wide trapezoidal outline flowing from the front to rear, thereby accentuating the car’s muscular flanks. All the lines flow through the flared fenders and converge to the rear end, thereby helping magnify the car's volume. The rear end is also defined by rear combination lamps that pay tributes to the previous MX-5 models while emitting new-generation lighting signatures.

Press Release

The All-new Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda has spent more than 25 years being obsessed with everything a lightweight sports car can be. All the Jinba Ittai inspiration gained over three model generations has gone into the all-new Mazda MX-5.

Its aggressive looks are, in a word, moving. Even at a standstill, the MX-5's flowing KODO-inspired lines seem to be in motion. But it still looks best - as do those inside it - in its main element: Namely driving down the open road with the top down.

Jinba Ittai, the rider-and-horse-as-one-body doctrine that has defined the relationship between drivers and their MX-5 from the beginning, applies in more ways than one. For example, in the way the interior design and remarkably clever packaging of the fourthgeneration model melt away the boundaries between the cabin and the exterior.

More traditional Jinba Ittai trademarks were also edged that much closer to perfection. Like weight distribution, which is now nearer than ever to the centre of gravity of a car that is lower to the ground with shorter overhangs. Starting at under 1,000kg, the all-new MX-5 weighs some 10% less than the outgoing model and is the lightest since the first generation. And that in spite of the advanced active and passive safety, smartphone connectivity technology, and evolved ergonomics with a human-machine interface that enables the driver to make the most of it all.

One with its inspirations

The MX-5 was a source of inspiration for Mazda innovations like SKYACTIV Technology, since implemented across the model line-up. Now SKYACTIV comes home to the latest MX-5 with two specially modified highcompression SKYACTIV-G petrol engines. A SKYACTIV-MT manual gearbox that takes the roadster's smooth, crisp shifting up another notch, a lightweight yet exceptionally strong SKYACTIV-Body, and a SKYACTIVChassis adapted to further enhance the already outstanding agility of Mazda's icon.

It's also safer, featuring i-ACTIVSENSE active safety systems and passive protection built into the SKYACTIV-Body and SKYACTIV-Chassis that is simply outstanding for an affordable roadster. Because peace of mind is also part of the fun.

And ultimately, pure driving fun is what the world's all-time best selling roadster is about. The fourth-generation MX-5 is without doubt the most memorable edition yet.


The all-new Mazda MX-5 is a head turner - a design masterpiece inside and out. It represents the pinnacle of Mazda's efforts to create a perfectly proportioned lightweight sports car for a truly electrifying driving experience, especially with the top down.

The design starts with the people. After all, a roadster is meant to be driven with the top down, and driver and passenger are meant to be seen. That has been a key part of the MX-5's allure for more than 25 years. Another is the patented Jinba Ittai driver-and-car-as-one feeling. Mazda's KODO - Soul of Motion design for the fourth-generation MX-5 unites both concepts in a powerful visual expression of its essential character: quick, agile and above all fun to drive.

Beautifully balanced

A hallmark of the all-new MX-5, perhaps more than any of its predecessors, is its ideal proportions. Occupants are seated literally at the vehicle's midpoint, closer to the ground than in past MX-5s, reflecting the new model's lower centre of gravity. The shortest MX-5 ever is also sleeker. Every single line and curve is intended to do one thing: set the onlooker's heart racing.

At the front, the low-slung nose and short overhang hints at the car's adept roadhugging proficiency. Sharp character lines running from the upper edge of the grille towards each headlamp emphasise the glinting nature of the wildcat eyes, which conceal ultra-compact four-lamp LED headlamp units. Situated at the lower corners of the front bumper, the LED daytime running lamps underscore the MX-5's broad stance.

Designers looked to the Japanese tradition of calligraphy when crafting the exterior, achieving a strikingly efficient flow down the sides of the car. Moving the cabin slightly rearward perfectly balances the roadster's proportions with the top down or up. Matching the soft top, the black A-pillars, windscreen header, door mirror trim and seatback bars highlight the cockpit style of the cabin and robust top-down look. As for the soft top itself, besides stowing away neatly into a remarkably compact space and streamlining the MX-5's silhouette, it also enhances the car's overall appearance when up, not to mention its aerodynamics.

Teeming with uniquely beautiful forms, the sides of the body appear to be "tucked in" at the corners, also narrowing above the tires. Front or back, it all spotlights the MX-5's design efficiency, with a low and wide trapezoidal outline front and back that further highlights its wiry musculature. The rear end, too, leaves a lingering impression. This is where all the lines converge through the flared fenders, which visually magnify the car's volume. The rear combination lamps, meanwhile, give a nod to previous generations while at the same time reflecting Mazda's unique new-generation lighting signatures.

Underpinning the new roadster are sporty 16 or 17-inch eight-spoke alloy wheels with four-nut centre hub finished in either gunmetal or silver (16-inch) and gunmetal or bright silver (17-inch). Whatever the choice, they should resonate with driving enthusiasts: Made from cold-cast aluminium, they're both lightweight and durable.

A second skin

The all-new MX-5 seems to erase the boundaries between the car, driver, road and scenery. For example, the ridgeline extending to the front fender from the upper door trim, is the same colour as the exterior, uniting inside and outside. The effect also underscores the traditional Jinba Ittai connection: It's cosy as always in the MX-5, only now even more comfortable and ergonomic.

A single axis in the cabin centres the driver on the steering wheel and instrument cluster in perfect symmetry with the climate control louvers to the sides and indeed all major controls, including the pedals and gearshift. Again here, the emphasis in the all-new MX-5's cabin space is clearly on driving. These details boost comfort while preventing fatigue and reducing distraction potential. And the details are many, from the compact steering wheel (see box) and ergonomic gearshift knob to the improved design of the soft top. It now features an assist spring reducing the force necessary for operation. The soft top is thus quickly opened or closed while remaining seated in an intuitive one-step manoeuvre - practical when the skies suddenly open up into a downpour.

The enhanced driving position offers occupants more knee room as well as head clearance. In fact, despite sitting lower to the ground, the driver's field of view is greater on the all-new MX-5 than on the outgoing model in every direction: up, down and horizontally.

Steering wheel: Classic, compact, chic

In true lightweight sports car tradition, the unpretentious steering wheel says "hop in and drive". With a compact 366mm diameter, it features a black leather cover with red stitching and three satin chrome spokes matching the climate control dials and shift boot ring. It works like it looks, too: On winding roads, the grip and rim facilitate quick, precise operation and hand-over-hand action, also letting the hands slide smoothly along the surface. The switches, meanwhile, are mounted inside the left and right spokes for easy access, recessed just enough not to interfere with operation.

Completely redesigned, the elegantly detailed three-gauge analogue instrument cluster with satin chrome rings is centred around a large tachometer with the speedometer to the right and an information display on the left. The latter includes fuel and mileage indicators as well as a performanceoriented water temperature gauge featuring a wider range than previous models.

The symmetry continues along the sleek wing-like dash, which stretches out horizontally to create a sense of roominess on the passenger side while further diminishing the boundaries between the MX-5 and its surroundings. The effect endures with the seamless flow of the panels into and along the trim of the doors. Their shapes express a dynamic pattern flowing from front to back. Highlighting the sculpted look, the soft material with decorative stitching on the armrests and central door trim sections contrasts pleasingly with the exterior coloured upper-door sections.

The all-new MX-5 features high-quality sports car seats in leather or fabric that blend sophisticated beauty with maximal functionality (see box). Snug in longstanding MX-5 tradition, the cushions and seatbacks have a new net structure that enhances comfort, fitting occupants perfectly but still firm enough to hold them securely in place in tight corners.

Another clever enhancement, the luggage compartment of the all-new MX-5 is 35mm longer and 36mm deeper than its predecessor's and can thus accommodate a pair of 550mm x 400mm x 220mm carry-on bags, despite the smaller overall boot volume of 130l.

Upholstery: Refined, sporty class

The all-new MX-5 comes with a choice of sporty black leather upholstery with red stitching or black fabric with either red or black stitching. Tan leather with beige stitching is also offered in right-hand drive models for the authentic feel of a classic British roadster, while left-hand drive MX-5s are available with black Recaro seats in a combination of nappa leather and Alcantara® with red piping accentuating the seat edge. In allcases, the door trim and lower dash is finished in the same look.

The leather seats feature a pleat in the centre section with the diamond-shaped stitching used for the KODO Chair exhibited at Milan Design Week in 2013. The detailing and precision of the sleek three-dimensional appearance are another prime example of the craftsmanship that went into the roadster's new interior. The grid-like woven pattern of the fabric seats, meanwhile, not only gives them a light, functional appearance, but also enhances body grip, fostering the Jinba Ittai feel.


Like other new-generation Mazdas, the all-new MX-5 safely and effortlessly connects driver and passenger with the world around them. And without distracting from what matters most: the joy of the iconic roadster.

Mazda's new-generation human-machine interface and smartphone connectivity play a central role in cabin functionality of the all-new MX-5. Important controls - the pedals, gearshift, steering wheel and rotary commander - have been thoughtfully designed and positioned to create that Mazda Jinba Ittai signature feel: As if the MX-5 were an extension of the driver's body.

Based on the heads-up cockpit concept, the layout of the controls allows drivers to leverage a wealth of useful information from an impressive slate of advanced technology and still safely focus on the road. By emphasising greater usability via simplicity, developers enhance driving satisfaction.

An independent 7-inch display is mounted on top of the dashboard of MX-5s with MZD Connect (see box), Mazda's smartphone-based system now available for the first time on the MX-5. Drivers can use the rotary commander on the floor console (or voice command for many functions) to effortlessly control the MX-5's infotainment offerings shown via the display. The driver need simply to lower one hand from the steering wheel to the centre console-based control in one quick, easy motion without taking his or her eyes off the road. Many infotainment functions are also accessible using voice command, including the audio system's play, stop and skip functions or to zoom in and out of the navigation system's map displays. All audio systems, meanwhile, support DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) as well as RDS.

The display itself is ergonomically positioned at the ideal height and distance from the driver. The screen minimises visual distraction, allowing for safe enjoyment of media, communications and online content.

Visually aligned

The instrument cluster, too, received a complete redesign with a large analogue tachometer between the speedometer on the right and another display to the left with the fuel gauge, fuel consumption, water temperature and other vehicle information. Logically, urgent safety system warnings appear in the tachometer. In "line" with the perfect driver-oriented symmetry of the MX-5 cabin, the centre of the instrument cluster is on the same axis as the middle of the steering wheel.

MZD Connect: Always on

Keep up with social media or send and receive emails, voice or text messages: MZD Connect seamlessly synchs with the smartphone via Bluetooth or USB, safely connecting occupants to the internet while on the road in the all-new Mazda MX-5. MZD Connect offers an enriched multimedia experience, including:

Access to AhaTM, a cloud-based platform providing access to tens of thousands of radio stations, podcasts, audio books and more
StitcherTM internet radio app also included
Twitter and Facebook audio feeds with the latest tweets and updates, allowing users to reply with "like" entries or post audio messages using the Shout function
The system can be personalised with location-based services, enabling users for example to:
search the navigation system's map data by voice command to show potential destinations
Includes Mazda's own apps such as Eco-display, which tracks fuel consumption, as well as maintenance reminders and warning guidance
Can be operated using the rotary commander or voice command MX-5s equipped with MZD Connect also include an on-board navigation system with map software viewed on the 7-inch centre display. The system:
Can tether to a smartphone for web searches to find specific destinations, like nearby filling stations and even the price of petrol, while providing ongoing traffic congestion data and other information on road conditions
Uses SD cards with NAVTEQ map data for Europe including three years of free biannual updates and support for 19 audio and 26 text languages
Can set destinations using voice command searches for points of interest, weather, restaurants, etc.

The Mazda MX-5 has never been about breakneck speed, but rather the right balance between power, weight, responsiveness and agility. These are the ingredients for maximum fun, and the all-new MX-5 and its SKYACTIV powertrains take the legendary roadster that much closer to perfection.

Under the bonnet of the all-new MX-5 is one of two proven direct-injection petrol engines - the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 or SKYACTIV-G 2.0 - specially tuned for the Mazda's newest icon. Both are mated to an especially crisp SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual adapted for the MX-5's classic front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive (FMR) layout.

They share much with the naturally aspirated powerplants found in other new generation Mazdas, like piston cavities, high tumble ports, multi-hole injectors, dual sequential valve timing and other efficiency enhancing features (see box).

But many - in fact most - components of the smaller SKYACTIV-G 1.5 were modified for the MX-5's layout, size and in the name of more output along with further weight reduction. And for a pleasingly light and immediate response to accelerator pedal input matching precisely the driver's intentions.

For example, Mazda changed the cam timing and rotating parts to raise the SKYACTIV-G 1.5's redline to 7,500rpm, adding a custom steel crankshaft to support the engine's free-revving nature. It also hiked maximum output relative to the versions found on front-wheel drive Mazdas to 96kW/131PS at 7,000rpm to go with 150Nm of peak torque at 4,800rpm. That's more power than the MZR 1.8 offered on the outgoing MX-5, and with significantly better fuel economy, too. The SKYACTIV-G 2.0, meanwhile, has been tuned for more low and mid-range torque, improving acceleration as well as mileage relative to the current MZR 2.0-powered model. The 118kW/160PS of maximum power arrives at 6,000rpm, with peak torque of 200Nm at 4,600rpm.

To amplify the fun factor, both engines feature new lighter and more compact intake and exhaust systems built to tap the full engine potential. The intake system, which weighs some 30% less than that in the outgoing MX-5, significantly reduces airflow resistance while cleverly removing exhaust heat to better sustain intake efficiency. The 4-2-1 exhaust manifold - an anti-knocking and pro-efficiency SKYACTIV-G mainstay feature - was also redesigned for the RWD layout as well as for an ideal torque curve and a pleasing engine sound. Not even the radiator was spared: Smaller and lighter, it now features air ducts and flaps to regulate air pressure from the fan, further enhancing cooling efficiency. The radiator was also repositioned closer to car's centre of gravity - just one of several measures to optimise weight distribution in the engine compartment. This enhances the MX-5's already superb agility, not to mention durability and NVH.

The unique SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual was originally developed to bring the MX-5's celebrated short, direct shift stroke to the rest of the Mazda model line-up. Now it comes full circle with a lively SKYACTIV-MT designed exclusively for the roadster's FMR layout, amplifying the Jinba Ittai driver-and-car-as-one experience. Adaptations here include simplified shift link mechanisms to reduce sliding resistance in the gearbox linkage, but without undermining the crisp shifting. The result: smooth, light gear changes that seem to "draw" the gearshift into the right position, but with the same short 40mm shift stroke common to all MX-5s since day one.

Perfecting the tradition

The direct-drive sixth gear, meanwhile, lowers the final gear ratio, raising real-world fuel economy by decreasing resistance. It also allows the use of a lighter ultra-compact limited-slip differential unit, which itself reduces energy transfer loss by about one quarter relative to the third-generation MX-5. And because Mazda wholeheartedly believes there is always room for improvement, its engineers even tweaked the clutch pedal stroke length and pressure for more graceful gearshifting and minimal driver burden.

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